Mary Nell Currie, beloved wife, mother, grandmother and friend, passed away at her home in Minocqua on Sept. 4. She was born on March 14,1928 in Brandon, Miss., and lived a full and loving life filled with travel, faith and service, music, nature, and, most of all, family.

One of six sisters in a large extended family, Mary Nell spent her childhood in Mississippi, graduating from Philadelphia (Miss.) High School in 1945. During those years, she studied piano and violin, which became lifelong pleasures, and began to sense the”largeness and infinite spaciousness of God’s love and His Earth”, as she wrote in her autobiography.

Following high school, she attended Belhaven College in Jackson and LSU in Baton Rouge (violin major). In 1947, she joined the orchestra of the musical revue “The Good Road” produced by Moral Rearmament, an international movement promoting reconciliation among the war-ravaged nations of Europe and Asia. This led to nearly 20 years of service as an executive secretary, musician, gourmet cook and editor in New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Switzerland, London, and Brazil. In 1966, she helped establish Mackinac College, a liberal arts institution aimed at developing a new generation of young leaders. She fell in love with an MRA co-worker, Bruce F. Currie, at an MRA youth conference on Mackinac Island, Mich., in 1947, and they married in 1958. This past July, they celebrated their 60th anniversary.

It was on Mackinac Island that Mary Nell and Bruce started their family: sons Craig and Bruce were born in 1963 and 1966. In 1969, they moved to Ann Arbor, where “Big Bruce” earned his PhD. Mary Nell worked as administrative editor of the Annals of Thoracic Surgery based at the University of Michigan Medical School. Job opportunities took them to New Jersey and then to Madison: Bruce with the Department of Family Medicine and Mary Nell as director of the Executive Residence (Governor’s Mansion) during the Dreyfus administration. While in Madison, Mary Nell sat on the board of the local Audubon Society and was responsible for its educational programs. She also co-produced the First Methodist Church’s annual Christmas musical.

In 1981, Mary Nell was able to complete her bachelor’s degree from Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey. That same year, Mary Nell and Bruce moved to the Kansas City area, where she worked as a successful real estate agent for 13 years. It was during these years that she established an after-school nature program for neighborhood children and discovered a talent for teaching children about the wonders of nature. This was a gift she shared with her grandchildren as she involved them in her love of gardening, hiking, camping, collecting nature artifacts, and of course, birdwatching. Bruce and Mary Nell retired in 1995, building a beautiful home on Malby Lake in Minocqua, a home where children, grandchildren and other family often gathered to enjoy her piano-playing, nature walks, loon-watching, and cooking.

In retirement, Mary Nell and Bruce split their time between Green Valley, Ariz., and Minocqua. She spent countless hours working on family genealogy to find, organize and preserve family mementos, photos and stories for her grandchildren and future generations. She also found great joy in staying connected with family and life-long friends she made during her travels. Up to and including the final, sunny day of her long, full life, Mary Nell could be found in her gardens, delighting in the beauty and glory of His World.

Mary Nell was predeceased by her parents, Duke H. and Lillian D. Thornton, her sisters Dorothy Dorris Thornton and Lorene Cain, and her brothers-in-law, Fergus Brown and Philip W. Currie, M.D.. She is survived by her husband, Bruce F. Currie, son Craig K. Currie and daughter-in-law Dawn Jones of Cushing, Maine; son Bruce C. Currie and daughter-in-law Beth Roseberry of Glen Ellyn, Ill.; grandchildren Ethan A. Currie, Emily N. Currie, Joshua T. Currie, and Daniela E. Currie; sisters Carolyn Duke Brown of Harrowsmith, Ontario and Lillian Landry of Hendersonville, N.C.; siblings-in-law James and Carol MacLennan and Elinor Currie, as well as many beloved nieces, nephews, cousins, and cherished friends.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 11 a.m. at United Methodist Church of the Pines. Following the service there will be a reception and luncheon, everyone who attended the service is welcome to attend.

Donations in memory of Mary Nell may be made to Habitat for Humanity, Northwoods; or the Minocqua Public Library.

Online condolences can be shared at and Nimsgern Funeral & Cremation Services is serving the family.